Existing home sales increased 2.1% in October from a downwardly revised level in September, but were up 10.9% from the same period a year ago. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that October 2012 total existing home sales were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.79 million units combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. That compares to a downwardly revised 4.69 million units in September (which was previously reported as 4.75 million), and 4.32 million units during the same period a year ago. NAR reported that most October transactions were complete by the time Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast.
The October 2012 level of single-family existing sales increased to a seasonally adjusted 4.22 million sales, up 1.9% from a downwardly revised 4.14 million sales in September, but up 9.6% from 3.85 million units during the same month a year ago. Seasonally adjusted condominium and co-op sales rose 3.6% to a seasonally adjusted 570,000 units in October 2012 after an upward revision to September sales. This level is up 21.3% from the 470,000 units a year ago.
The total housing inventory at the end of October decreased 1.4% from the previous month to 2.14 million existing homes for sale. At the current sales rate, the October 2012 inventory represents a 5.4-month supply which is down from a revised 5.6-month supply in September, and down from the 7.6-month supply of homes a year ago. The October supply was the lowest since the 5.2-month level in February 2006. NAR reported 24% of October 2012 sales were distressed, defined as foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts. This level was the same as September, but down from 28% a year ago. The median sales price for existing homes of all types in October 2012 was $178,600, up from a downwardly revised $178,300 in September (previously reported as $183,900), but up 11.1% from $160,800 during the same period a year ago.
In October 2012, all cash sales increased to 29% of transactions from 28% in September, and unchanged from 29% during October a year ago. Investors accounted for 20% of September 2012 home sales, up from 18% in September and 18% a year ago. First-time buyers accounted for 31% of October 2012 sales, down from 32% in August and 34% from the same period a year ago.
The September 2012 Pending Home Sales Index increased 0.3%. So it was expected that existing home sales would increase in September, but at slower rate than earlier in the year. Next month’s existing sales are expected to remain consistent with the pattern between existing home sales and the Pending Home Sales Index.